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Solar panels at Melrose's Lincoln school touted as teaching tools

Posted by Alix Roy  January 22, 2010 11:00 AM

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Students at Lincoln Elementary School will get a lesson in renewable energy when solar panels are installed on the roof of their school.

That lesson will come free of charge to the district thanks to a $23,000 grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC), made possible by contributions from residents interested in supporting green initiatives.

City Planner Denise Gaffey said the grant was made possible through a discontinued program that collected donations from participating residents through small surcharges added to their energy bills. The amounts were matched by MTC and given back to the community in the form of grants for renewable energy projects.

Gaffey, whose household participated in the program, worked with Melrose Mayor Robert Dolan and the Melrose Energy Commission to decide how the grant money would be spent. MTC provided a free site visit from The Cadmus Group, an environmental consulting firm that specializes in green building.

Current plans are for a small installation of solar panels positioned on the roof of the school, visible from nearby playing fields. The panels won't produce a large amount of energy, Gaffey said, but they will serve as an educational tool for students to learn about sustainable energy.

“It's kind of like a demonstration for students,” she said.

Gaffey is currently working on a grant proposal to bring additional funds to Melrose through the MLC's Solar program, which would enable the district to expand the panels at Lincoln and the larger collection at the middle school. In the meantime, any power produced by the panels will be helpful in lowering the city's energy costs, she said.

“Any savings is savings to the city and the school department,” she said. “We're really pleased about it.”

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